Small random-orbit or pad sanders make this job go faster. (Wallis first covers these boundaries with Synkoloid patching compound so no edge is visible after sanding.) As shown, you want to make sure that there is a feathered, smooth transition from exposed wood to old paint. For areas that might get close scrutiny, you can follow up with a 100- or 120-grit rubdown to erase any scratches.
These are some fantastic questions to ask and I particularly like the one that is concerned about safety for the painters. After all, if you have a large home and you’re hiring them to paint the exterior of that home then they’ll likely be on scaffolding. Because of that, you need to make sure that the contractor not only provides appropriate safety training, but has the correct liability insurance as well.